|ZOTAC GeForce 8800 GT 512MB AMP! HDMI Video Card|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Saturday, 23 February 2008|
Page 4 of 14
ZOTAC 8800 GT AMP! Closer Look
Just as I mentioned in the article introduction, NVIDIA is now enjoying it's ninth generation of GeForce offspring. This leaves most people wondering what becomes of the eighth generation of products, since they have become the cornerstone of any gamers system over the past two years. Since the October 27th, 2007 when NVIDIA lifted the embargo on their much-anticipated G92 and launched the GeForce 8800 GT video card, there has been a whirl-wind of success behind the product
The GeForce 8800 GT is the first graphics card to transition to the more efficient 65nm process, and the first to support PCI-Express 2.0. When NVIDIA originally released the GeForce 8800 series back on November 8th, 2006 the gaming industry was stunned. The performance yielded by the newly minted top-level 8800 GTX nearly doubled that of the next best offerings prior to their launch. Even the slightly less powerful 8800 GTS managed to post similarly astonishing results, making their release a double-whammy for an already trailing competition. At that particular time, the high price tag seemed acceptable for a narrow majority. But here we are a generation later, and the product line may still have some deep roots.
ZOTAC improves upon NVIDIA's reference design with their own versions of the GeForce 8800 GT video card. The featured product for our review is the ZOTAC GeForce 8800 GT 512MB AMP! Edition HDMI output ZT-88TES3P-FCP. ZOTAC presently offers four variations of the GeForce 8800 GT, to include this extremely overclocked AMP! Edition boasting performance at the very edge of the G92's capabilities. NVIDIA released a 256MB version of the 8800 GT with lower memory speeds (1.4 GHz as opposed to 1.8 GHz) but the same reference core clock, however benchmarks have shown that the 256 MB version of the 8800 GT performs noticeably worse than its 512 MB counterpart, especially in newer games such as Crysis.
In the image above, look closely at the exhaust area of the GT, where there is a small white connection recepticle. This connection is for the digital audio cable which comes with the ZOTAC GeForce 8800 GT AMP! video card kit. Combined with the included HDMI-to-DVI adapter, you can transmit fully digital audio and video signal through your entertainment system or home theater.
The image below is of the included HDMI audio output cable. This connects between the video card, and either your motherboard or sound card digital input pins. Not all motherboards and sound cards support this option, so make sure it's available before you make your purchase.
Because the HDMI audio functionality is controlled at a hardware level, there is no need for additional drivers or software. Much like the SPDIF connection on the back of a motherboard, the video cards audio out function is plug-n-play. This feature worked perfectly with the HT Omega Claro Plus+ AD8620BR Op Amp Sound Card it was tested with. Once I figured out the polarity of the S/PDIF input port on the sound card, both pins fit in nicely.
The 8800 GT, unlike other 8800 cards, is equipped with the PureVideo 2 engine for GPU assisted decoding of the H.264 and VC-1 CODEC's. Performance benchmarks of family products at reference stock speeds place it above the 8800 GTS (640MB and 320MB versions) and slightly below the 8800 GTX. This in an important NVIDIA factoid that plays well into our own benchmarks later on in this article.
NIVIDA has designed the GeForce 8800 GT to be a more efficient (and more powerful) addition to the 8th Generation of GeForce products. While the performance may be on-par with the power-hungry GeForce 8800 GTX, it should please you to learn that the ZOTAC GeForce 8800 GT AMP! Edition graphics card consumes almost half the power under high-power full 3D load.
In comparison to our (extremely) overclocked G80-based GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB which consumes 72 additional watts of power when switching from low to high-power mode, the G92-based GeForce 8800 GT AMP! Edition only raises the level 59W under full load.
Please continue on to the next section as Benchmark Reviews literally uncovers the ZOTAC GeForce 8800 GT AMP! Edition for a closer inspection.